Summer Writing Camp

Summer Writing Camp for Girls 2011I continue to write once a month with the WriteGirls. Last summer I led, for the second year, a two-week day camp for the girls, one I think I would have enjoyed much more than the overnight camp I attended at age 12. At that Y camp, I had to be rescued during the swim test. I panicked because I couldn’t see or touch the bottom of the lake.

I would have loved to sit and write the way the girls do at this camp: no backstroke tests, no teams, no lanyards. The girls are eager to produce. They’re working on stories and novels and poems.

I asked them to write quickly about summer. Here are their impressions.

Julia: The air settles heavily on my shoulders, and I swirl to the floor in a tangled heap. The tepid linoleum offers little comfort. “Why me?” I ask the ceiling, thinking what a stupid question. The heat seems to be melting my reasoning as well as my skin. I live in North Carolina, after all, where the weather has mood swings more drastic than those of a 16-year-old girl. I close my eyes to the sun.

Brenna: Lemonade on ice cools with sweet, juicy sourness. Ah, perfect bliss and easy. My mother mixes sugar and powdered lemon in water to create the best summer drink, so thirst-quenching. Who knew that liquid happiness could come from a white plastic container, pre-powdered for our convenience.

Sabrina: Ocean, how I once loved you. Your waves, how cool and refreshing you were to me. But after one story by an author that shall remain unnamed, I no longer go near you. Never again will I be able to enjoy you. Not a pond or a lake, either. Nothing for me anymore but a pool.

Olivia: Outside the heat wilts the trees and the flowers bend their heads under the July sun. But I get to sink into the squishy couch cushions. The cool air of my basement lair surrounds me and I open the first in a large stack of books. Sighing comfortably, I dig in. This is my summer – devoid of heat and sweat.

Anonymous: You go on Sunday. Check-in is from one to five. You get your dorm assignment, your roommate, and your schedule. Then you have your first rehearsal. You’re independent all week, except at night, when your counselors take roll to make sure you’re still alive. Other than that you’re on your own. Freedom and music are what I like best about summer band camp.

It’s great to take a vacation

It doesn’t matter the location

To the beach where the sand castles loom

Only to fall when the waves seal their doom

It doesn’t matter where you go

Just do let your fragile heart grow.

– Eleanor

Sadie: First allow me to describe a tick bite. You reach down absentmindedly to scratch. Your fingers dig into your skin and you sigh with relish. But wait. What’s this? Your fingers have pulled off a wiggling black shape now stuck under your fingernail. You pry it out and kill it, perhaps pulling at its head or flushing it down the toilet. Over the next few days your skin bubbles and blisters. It turns a bright red and soon crusts up and bleeds. Finally it heals, leaving only a puckered pink scar.

Spitting out dark seeds

watermelon tastes so good

red and green and black.

Red and white and blue

fireworks crash in the air

lighting up the night.

– Mary

Kayla: Dancing, playing games, running around, screaming, laughing, sweating, swimming, sliding, drinking pink lemonade, eating ice cream, hamburgers and chips: these are summer parties. But then there are the annoying ticks and mosquitoes that suck your blood and the flies that get in your food. Still, party all summer.

[originally published in slightly altered form in the Chapel Hill News]

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